Radial Head Excision and Synovectomy in Patients with Hemophilia

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BackgroundChronic hemophilic synovitis of the elbow usually leads to enlargement and erosion of the radial head, resulting in mechanical blockage of forearm rotation, synovial impingement, recurrent hemarthrosis, and pain. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the intermediate-term results of radial head excision and synovectomy in a large group of patients with hemophilia who had been managed at a single institution.MethodsInformation on forty radial head excision and synovectomy procedures that had been performed at our institution from 1969 to 2004 was retrospectively collected. All but one of the operations had been performed in patients with severe hemophilia. The mean age of the patients at the time of the procedure was thirty-three years. Pain, limited range of motion, and bleeding were the indications for surgery. The mean duration of follow-up was 7.7 years.ResultsOnly one postoperative complication was observed: a posterior interosseous nerve palsy that fully resolved by six months. No additional surgical intervention for bleeding was required in sixteen of the nineteen elbows in which bleeding was one of the indications for surgery. Of the forty elbows, seven required a secondary surgical procedure at a mean of five years after the excision of the radial head. Examination of the mean range of motion at the time of the latest follow-up demonstrated a 63° increase in the pronation-supination arc (p < 0.00001) but only a 2° increase in the flexion arc.ConclusionsRadial head excision in patients with hemophilia is an effective procedure for improving forearm rotation and reducing pain and bleeding frequency, with a low risk of complications.Level of EvidenceTherapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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